Notice of permit

Regional or Local Number: SARA-QR-2017-0400

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to the provisions of section 73 of the Species at Risk Act permit no. SARA-QR-2017-0400 is issued.

Purpose:
Affecting the species is incidental to the carrying out of the activity

Description:
Authorization for activities that occur in or near an area subject to an Emergency Order for the Protection of the Western Chorus Frog (Great Lakes/St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield population) – “the Order” (ref: SOR/2016-211). This permit authorizes the permit holder, under certain conditions, to carry out activities to manage infrastructure and control problematic vegetation by various means, including the use of vehicles and machinery otherwise prohibited by the Order. The infrastructure includes a network of recreational eco-trails and associated structures, wildlife developments, a portion of an outdoor public skating rink, a municipal storm-water management system and a network of service roads for maintaining infrastructure. The control of problematic vegetation is focused on invasive alien species and hazardous trees.

Start Date: 2017-10-07   End Date: 2020-12-31

Issuing Authority: Environment Canada

Authority Used:

  • Species at Risk Act

Location of Activity (province, territory or ocean):

  • Quebec

Affected Species:

Pre-Conditions:
a) This permit authorizes various activities for managing vegetation and infrastructure in an area subject to an Emergency Order for the Protection of the Western Chorus Frog (WCF). All reasonable alternatives to the activities that would reduce the impact on the species have been considered, and the best solutions have been adopted to promote conservation of the species and ensure the implementation of sound vegetation and infrastructure management. The following alternatives were considered: 1) Ceasing infrastructure maintenance. In some locations, the only way to completely prevent risk to the WCF is to abandon vegetation management efforts, including the control of invasive alien species (IAS), and to stop maintaining roads, trails, storm-water collection infrastructure, and the rink. Those alternatives were not deemed reasonable and were therefore rejected for the following reasons: - not controlling IAS would contribute to the loss of intact local biodiversity, and could also cause degradation or loss of WCF habitat; - not maintaining the storm-water management system would lead to its premature deterioration and increase the risk of flooding; - closing or not maintaining the service roads for infrastructure maintenance would cause inefficiency and result in more uncontrolled traffic in the natural wetlands; and - disallowing access by motor vehicles would make management of the area inefficient or impossible. 2) Relocating the infrastructure outside the area covered by the Order. Urban development relies on the existing storm-water collection infrastructure. Its relocation would not be economically or technically viable. 3) Closing the site to the public. Closing or not maintaining the recreational trails would change the current use of the conservation park, i.e., to provide a public space for outdoor activities having a low environmental impact and for education/awareness purposes. The Order was not intended to restrict this type of use. It would also send the wrong message: that humans and the WCF cannot share the area. 4) The best solution was chosen: significantly reduce the surface area where vegetation maintenance work will be carried out; restrict motor-vehicle access to roads and trails; close some roads and trails; limit work to the bare minimum required to ensure that infrastructure continues to function properly; and avoid sensitive sites. The town of La Prairie (Ville de La Prairie, or VLP) also suggested maintenance schedules and frequency be modified in order to avoid periods when the species is most vulnerable. The use of recreational trails (for walking, cycling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing) has no negative impact on the species, and may even have a positive effect by promoting education and awareness. In addition to modifying its maintenance activities, and rather than closing trails, VLP focused on posting effective signage to ensure proper trail use and reduce disturbance or harm to the WCF. The town also decided to reduce its management activities and eliminate those that pose a high risk, and to apply all possible mitigation measures to reduce the impacts that cannot be eliminated, so as not to compromise the survival and recovery of the WCF populations. b) All feasible measures will be taken to minimize the impact of the activity on the species’ habitat (residences and critical habitat). In the absence of any planning that adequately takes the WCF’s habitat requirements into account, including protection during sensitive periods and in sensitive areas (particularly for reproduction and the migrations associated with it), the management activities planned by the applicant could have major negative impacts on local WCF populations, including killing large numbers of individuals. VLP has significantly and adequately modified the frequency and timing of pruning, mowing and cutting activities in habitat that may be used by the WCF, in order to avoid high-risk periods. Managing invasive alien species (e.g., the common reed) requires activities such as cutting or even uprooting vegetation in habitat used by the WCF, including for reproduction. Those activities are conducted outside the species’ reproductive period (before reproduction and after development of the tadpoles and emergence of the post-metamorphic juveniles). In general, IAS are controlled using hand-held tools, without applying pesticides. When IAS are removed, the area is reseeded or planted with indigenous plant species that are compatible with the ecosystem of the WCF’s habitat. The fight against IAS will contribute to the recovery of the WCF through restoration of its habitat, an objective identified in the recovery program. VLP has also limited the use of motor vehicles on the roads and trails and will use non-motorized means of transportation whenever possible. In addition, driving on the roads and trails is planned in such a way so as to prevent the formation of ruts. When machinery and vehicles must be used off-road and off-trail for maintenance, the operations will be planned on a case-by-case basis, using the most up-to-date information about the species’ use of habitat; the wetlands will always be avoided; residues from pruning or from excavation of ditches or basins will be left at the site, volume permitting, in order to reduce the need to use extra vehicles to remove residues; and the appropriate inventories will be conducted annually to document the species’ presence in the area. c) The activity will not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species. Even though alternative solutions have been adopted to prevent impacts, and appropriate mitigation measures have been applied to reduce impacts that cannot be prevented, the activities could have residual impacts, as individuals might be accidentally killed or injured. However, these effects are not expected to jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species. Maintenance of linear infrastructure was identified as a threat to the species, in particular due to direct mortality effects, the introduction of IAS, and the barrier effect on the species’ movement caused by this infrastructure. The authorized roads and trails do not pose major obstacles to movement, as they are less than 4 meters wide, the majority of them are dirt, gravel or vegetated, and vehicles use them only occasionally for carrying out maintenance. Nevertheless, the measures adopted for managing vegetation on the existing trails, as well as for maintenance and access (in particular, when the work is carried out, how frequently and in what areas), significantly reduce the effects that cannot be completely prevented. Given the prevention and mitigation measures applied, none of the activities increase the threat to the species’ recovery, as the major threats are habitat loss or degradation and population loss. The proposed activities are unlikely to jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species and are compatible with the recovery objectives identified in the federal recovery strategy in effect (2016) for this species.

Contact Person(s)
Habitat Division
Canadian Wildlife Service
Sainte-Foy, Quebec
Phone: (418) 684-5757
Fax: (418) 684-7045
E-mail: permislep.qc@ec.gc.ca